Besides being bewildered at how low Barbet Schroeder’s fortunes have sunk for him to be involved with this film and seeing Ryan Gosling in an early role, all Murder by Numbers offers is a look at Sandra Bullock’s seemingly limitless egomania.
Bullock’s police detective isn’t just so beautiful even high schooler Gosling can’t resist her, neither can her coworkers (Numbers believes in empowerment through promiscuity), she’s also smarter than any of the other cops and she has Oprah-like epiphanies at all the right moments.
But Numbers isn’t really about Bullock and her overcompensating issues, it’s supposed to be about Gosling and co-star Michael Pitt being modern day Leopold and Loebs. Sadly, since their very boring story is juxtaposed against Bullock’s equally boring (and even worse) story, Numbers is a disaster.
About the only good performance in the movie is Chris Penn playing a seedy high school janitor. It’s not a stretch for Penn.
Bullock is shockingly bad. One has to wonder why she’s trying for an East Coast tough girl accent in coastal California, though one could ask the same about Gosling. Though he seems to be going for a tough guy, not girl.
Pitt’s terrible. Gosling’s terrible. Ben Chaplin, as Bullock’s new partner who falls madly in love with her because she’s so wonderful, he’s awful too. R.D. Call is laughable as her boss.
While Tony Gayton’s script is garbage, Schroeder doesn’t even try with it. He could’ve at least tried.
Bullock and her Numbers are execrable.
Directed by Barbet Schroeder; written by Tony Gayton; director of photography, Luciano Tovoli; edited by Lee Percy; music by Clint Mansell; production designer, Stuart Wurtzel; produced by Richard Crystal, Schroeder and Susan Hoffman; released by Warner Bros.
Starring Sandra Bullock (Cassie Mayweather), Ben Chaplin (Sam Kennedy), Ryan Gosling (Richard Haywood), Michael Pitt (Justin Pendleton), Agnes Bruckner (Lisa Mills), R.D. Call (Captain Rod Cody), Tom Verica (Asst. D.A. Al Swanson) and Chris Penn (Ray Feathers).
Posted in 2002, Color, Crime, Drama, English, Thriller, USA, Warner Bros.
Tagged Agnes Bruckner, Barbet Schroeder, Ben Chaplin, Chris Penn, Clint Mansell, Lee Percy, Luciano Tovoli, Michael Pitt, R.D. Call, Richard Crystal, Ryan Gosling, Sandra Bullock, Stuart Wurtzel, Susan Hoffman, Tom Verica, Tony Gayton
In the few reviews of The Ice Harvest I looked at before renting the DVD, the reviewers all called John Cusack’s lawyer character dumb. Watching the film, however, I noticed John Cusack was doing what he always does… playing John Cusack. So, I didn’t really see his character as stupid (I was trying to read so much into those reviews, I was actually questioning what the reviewers must have thought he should do scene to scene–but only for a little while, it got distracting). I queued The Ice Harvest this week because I’d forgotten about it. A film written by Robert Benton and Richard Russo, it’s of a particular pedigree. Harold Ramis seems an odd choice for a director, given I expected the Benton and Russo script to be incredibly quiet… and The Ice Harvest is incredibly quiet. More happens in the first fifteen minutes or so than in the rest of the movie, just because Cusack drives to more places in that time. But Ramis handles it quite beautifully. I was halfway through the film before I noticed just how good of a job he does.
Instead of being a heist at Christmas gone wrong (which is actually The Ref, isn’t it?), The Ice Harvest defines itself in the scenes between Cusack and Oliver Platt as a (quiet) rumination on the state of the American male. It’s almost a modern Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Platt’s excellent, of course, so’s Cusack (playing himself) and the rest of the cast is good. Billy Bob Thorton’s good, with the most laughs in the film. Randy Quaid, Ned Bellamy, Mike Starr, all good. The only problem with The Ice Harvest–besides its lack of focus, which is probably more serious than the following–is Connie Nielsen. Nielsen’s awful. She couldn’t sell shampoo, much less play a femme fatale. Her scenes drag The Ice Harvest to a halt–and at a fast-paced ninety minutes, it’s a hard thing to do. When it started and she showed up and was terrible, I really hoped it wasn’t Connie Nielsen. Maybe the character was just a throwaway, certainly not the third-billed. But the third-billed it was… She practically haunts the whole movie.
Overall, I’m really sorry I waited so long to see The Ice Harvest. I intended to see it in the theater, but never made it. Its quietness amid some really smarmy, loud settings makes it peculiar but still a very worthwhile film. It also has a nice lack of predictability thing going.
Directed by Harold Ramis; written by Richard Russo and Robert Benton, based on the novel by Scott Phillips; director of photography, Alar Kivilo; edited by Lee Percy; music by David Kitay; production designer, Patrizia von Brandenstein; produced by Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa; released by Focus Features.
Starring John Cusack (Charlie), Billy Bob Thornton (Vic), Connie Nielsen (Renata), Randy Quaid (Bill Guerrard), Oliver Platt (Pete) and Mike Starr (Roy).
Posted in 2005, Color, Comedy, Crime, Drama, English, Focus Features, Thriller, USA
Tagged Alar Kivilo, Albert Berger, Billy Bob Thornton, Connie Nielsen, David Kitay, Harold Ramis, John Cusack, Lee Percy, Mike Starr, Oliver Platt, Patrizia von Brandenstein, Randy Quaid, Richard Russo, Robert Benton, Ron Yerxa, Scott Phillips